How to prepare for IAS Examination

How to prepare for IAS:

Presenting the article on How to prepare for IAS. This article will help you to understand the IAS exam process, different strategies and will highlight the Do's and Don'ts while preparing for UPSC.

The first step to understanding How to prepare for IAS is understanding the exam pattern and the exam stages followed by the choice of optional subject.

The Indian Civil Services examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year. The examination schedule and notifications are announced and updated on UPSC website in the month of February or March every year.

Here is a short guide by NeoStencil for your IAS preparation.

Three phases:


Preliminary Examination - Objective Type (Qualifying exam):

The first stage is the Preliminary Examination, an objective type exam which is qualifying in nature and its score is not counted while preparing the final rank. Candidate needs to qualify prelims to write the mains exam.

There are two papers in prelim exams (each for two hours), the Paper I that is General Studies and Paper II that is Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). Marks of Paper I alone are counted while preparing a list of approximately 17,000 candidates who are declared qualified to write Mains exam. Marks of Paper II are not considered for ranking but the candidate must score a minimum of 33% to pass the preliminary stage.

The candidate who clears the Prelims exam becomes eligible to appear in the Mains written exams, the one who clears the mains exam becomes eligible to appear for the interview.

The aim of the candidate should be to clear the prelims exam to qualify and appear on the next stage that is Mains examination.

Suggested books for prelims preparation:

Books for prelims preparation - Click Here to Download

The best idea is to always keep syllabus handy to avoid wondering and studying what is not needed or missing the must read part. Here is the link for your help.

UPSC syllabus:

UPSC Syllabus - Click Here to Download

Main Examination - Written Test:

The second stage evaluates the candidate on their writing and presentation skills. One must be aware of the current affairs and have an opinion about the same. One has to write down a lot in the limited time thus practicing through test series if very important.

In this stage, knowledge of the optional subject is tested along with general studies.

Selection of optional subject should be guided by

  1. Access to quality study material
  2. Good mentoring and
  3. Interest evoked
  4. If it overlaps with General Studies subjects, it s a big value addition.

Weightage of various papers in Mains exam: Total 1750 = 500 Marks of Optional Subject divided into two papers + 1000 Marks of General Studies divided into four papers + 250 Marks of Essay.

Ace UPSC Exam with Top IAS teachers LIVE Online - Click here to connect with us!

Mode of Preparation:

Each student has a different way and plans to study depending upon their convenience.

1. Self-study:

One should keep these things in mind while heading with self-preparation.

1) A disciplined approach is a must as learning in isolation is difficult.

2) Regularly revise what you read.


OverComing The Curve


3) Self-made notes are best for short revision and refreshment of what you read earlier.

4) Targeted study and an unaltered routine go hand in hand.

5) The best source over the years for History, Geography, Environment, Economics, Social issues has been NCERT books of 6th to 12th standard. Clear the basics of Geography, History, Economics reading from NCERT books.

6) Make the best and maximum use of the free resources available online like InsightsOnIndia, NeoStencil, etc.

2. Enroll with a Coaching center:

If you are short of time and resources, joining a coaching can be a big help and better option.

1) It helps you in setting up a time bounded routine and preparation becomes guided. 99% of the toppers opt for some or the other coaching.

2) You get a chance to discuss and have a better understanding of the topic by discussing the same with other students and faculty.

3) A competitive environment is created.

4) In a case of doubt, a faculty is always available to help.

5) You are already sorted with the syllabus and the study material.

6) Preparation gets a direction and is to the point which saves a lot of your time which might have gone wasted in wondering, what to study and what not to study.

7) Must join a Test Series and read Newspapers throughout.

Test Series:

Whether you choose self-study or coaching, the most important part which should be added in your preparation is test practice. Test practice is a catalyst for your preparation as it helps in analyzing how well have you prepared.

1) Helps in developing the writing skills.

2) Candidate gets an idea of the real environment (Kind of questions asked, fixed space answer sheet, question-wise marks distribution).

3) Candidate learns the most important practice of time management.

4) Feedback from the faculties evaluating the copies can be a great help to improvise with every test you write.

Current Affairs:

Current affairs are the most important part of your UPSC/IAS exam preparation. In both prelims and mains, more than 70% questions are linked to current affairs and it also improves and differentiates the answer you write down in your mains answer sheet.

The best source for current affairs: Read only 1 newspaper - TheHindu. Read only one magazine - Yojna or Economic & Political Weekly.

The wise words !!

Keep yourself motivated throughout!

6 to 7 hours of regular study is good enough but only when done consistently!

Make your own strategy, targets and follow the same!

Revise what you read!

All the best.

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